Ayodhya Verdict, Temple And Indian Nationalism

While Ayodhya verdict is under criticism from various quarters for ignoring the basic issue of land dispute, for ignoring the illegal installation of Ram Lalla idols on the night of 23 Dec 1949 and the demolition of the masjid by Sangh Parivar on 6th December 1992, a new dimension has been added to the issue. In the aftermath of the judgment, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat (30th Sept 2010) had welcomed the judgment and stated that this judgment paves the way for grand Ram Temple as court has already allotted 2/3 of land, where the mosque, is located to Hindus. Now (Dec 12, 2010) he goes further to say that division of land is unwarranted and all land should be given to Hindus as division always creates problems as in the case of Kashmir, and that all the land should be handed over to Hidus. According to him this will also be in the fitness of nationalism as it will wipe out Babri Masjid, the symbol of foreign rule. The temple will create the ‘Bharat’s self consciousness’. Giving hint of the future plans, the RSS supremo further said that it is time that we re-establish all such symbols that portend Bharat’s self-image and nature that was razed during the foreign rule.

The statement of Mr. Bhagwat is quiet in tune with the politics, ideology and agenda of RSS. Needless to say the comparison with division of Kashmir is totally warped and illogical. Kashmir was an independent state attacked by Pakistan. Kashmir acceded to India in the face of this aggression and there were clauses of full autonomy of Kashmir barring the matters related to defense, communication, currency and foreign affairs. Indian army entered Kashmir after this accession by which time 1/3 Kashmir was occupied by Pakistan army. It was not a division by any legal authority. The occupation of Kashmir by Pakistan was an act of aggression and United Nations had mandated for plebiscite in Kashmir, which never took place. And Dr. Bhagwat/RSS is worried about the ill effects of division, they can very well leave the ‘manufactured claims’ and restore the masjid pre 6th December 1992 and pre 23 December 1949. That will be an appropriate way to avoid division and solve the issue, releasing us from the vice like grip of identity issues so that nation can focus on infinite ills ailing the country.

In case of Babri masjid it was a protected monument under the Indian act and on the night of 23 December 1949 some motivated elements, hand in glove with sympathizers of Hindu nationalism installed the idols there. Then, RSS elements (Advani and co.) took over the issue in the decade of 1980 and demolished the masjid, which has been one of the biggest crimes in Independent India. It was also an assault on Indian Constitution. The Court gave the verdict in a Panchayat style ignoring the core elements of the case, also under the dominating influence of communalization of society which has been unleashed by the communal violence and propaganda. What is needed is to look at the clauses of Indian Constitution and restore the land to the Sunni Wakf Board, under whose possession that land has been for long enough time to be legally valid.

To regard the structures built during medieval period as symbols of foreign rule is contrary to the concept of Indian Nationalism. Indian Nationalism regarded British rule as foreign rule and struggled against it. Still it did not talk of wiping out the structures built by British during their rule. RSS type ideologies never struggled against the foreign rule, British rule, and regard the period of Muslim Kings as the period of foreign rule. This again goes against the understanding of Indian nationalism. Kingdoms are Kingdoms and we can’t equate Kingdoms to nationalism. Kings of different religions have ruled for power and wealth. They were neither representative of the people nor of their religion. Since RSS ideology emerged form the declining social sectors of Hindu Kings, Landlords and clergy they have deliberately accorded to Kings’ rule the status of nationalism. Same applies to the Muslim communal ideology that accords the status of nationalism to the rule of Muslim Kings. There is a deliberate confusion between the concept of Kingdoms and Modern nation states in communal ideology. Communal ideologies imagine that all religious communities were homogenous and fighting against other religious communities.

Hindu Kings were exploiting Hindu peasants and Muslim kings were not targeting Hindu peasants just because they were Hindus. Barring few exceptions religion was not the goal of kings Also it is interesting that except initial plundering by some Muslim Kings, once they settled here in collaboration and alliance with Hindu Kings, they did not take away the wealth of this land to other places. On contrary British rule was primarily for plunder of resources of the country. The RSS, communal ideologies’ ignoring the British exploitation and harping on Muslim Kings is due to their agenda of religious nationalism, which is away from the values of freedom movement; Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. In Modern nationalism, Indian Nationalism, the past is not looked through religious angle and the main goal is to build the future on the principals enshrined in Indian Constitution. That’s how Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru emphasized on ‘new temple’ of Modern India; Educational institutes and industries. Contrary to this for RSS the temples of past when Hindu Kings ruled and applied the laws of Manu, birth based hierarchy of caste and gender, is their political and social agenda.

British deliberately gave a communal twist to the History by projecting Kings as Hindus or Muslims and sowed the seeds of division between the people. Muslim League on one side and Hindu Mahsabha-RSS on the other played a compliant role to British Policy, accepted their version of History, and spread hatred against the other community. This ‘Hate other’ laid the foundation of communal violence and Partition of India, which was the highest index of success of British policy of divide and rule, in which communalists came in handy to execute the British designs of splitting the communities along religious lines. Muslim League-RSS were ideal puppets in the hands of British. Today in India the divisive politics is again being deliberately promoted to sidetrack the core issues related to bread, butter, employment and shelter, to undermine the concept of rights and dignity of average people.

RSS Chief’s call to reestablish all such symbols is fraught with danger. Where will one stop? With rule of Hindu Kings?; some may like to go further back to the demolition of Buddha Vihars by Hindu rulers? And then what will one do with the Aryans coming to India and their dominating the native Adivasi and others? The whole country did accept 15th August as the starting point of our nation, and made it a point of departure from the past to initiate the future building of peace and progress. The ideologies and calls being given by RSS family are something alien to Indian nationalism and they need to be combated against to preserve and protect the very idea of India as it emerged during national movement and as it was nurtured by the founding fathers of India.

Ayodyah judgment also needs a relook form the same barometer of Indian legality and not RSS agenda of dividing people along religious lines. It is needed that all those committed to the values of amity of communities, and Indian Constitution, all those valuing the concept of Human rights come forward and spread the awareness about the Indian nationalism and build the bridges amongst religious communities to focus on progress of the nation in the field of education and industrialization on the basis of Human rights of all Indians, leaving the mosques and temples in peace, as they are; where they are.

Ayodhya Verdict Of Sep 30 And My Daughter

By Yasir bin Taiyab,

30th September 2010 was my daughter Eliza’s first birthday. Since the morning I was very excited as the first birthday is always special. All the day I was planning for the evening and was expecting a gift from Lucknow for my sweet daughter, where the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court was pronouncing the judgment on Ayodhya title dispute. Being an Indian Muslim I was not too ambitious; therefore simply expected a fair judgment if not a decree. I also wanted to show my Kashmiri wife that it is still a good idea to believe in the India, and none but the Law is the saviors.

When the judgment was actually announced I was numb and concerned. The first thought that came to my mind was ‘How will I respond to my wife?’ Kashmiris have almost lost their faith in Indian State and have always been arguing against my faith in the state. This judgement will transfer even more arsenals into my kitchen and for next few weeks I will be left with no option but to defend myself on the dinning table.

The second thought that crossed my mind was ‘Why our ancestors stayed in India after the assassination of Gandhi?’ The migration continued for almost two decades after Gandhiji’s assassination, therefore they had enough time to introspect and decide. I don’t know what made them to stick to their decision that they took in 1947. There would have been some good reason for the stay but I will never know the reason as it was decided by my grand father who died 9 years before I was born. But for me it is indifferent to stay on either side of the Radcliff line as conditions are the same.

Lastly, I wondered, ‘Whether we should still show our faith in the Indian judiciary?’ I can only say I hope so. I don’t have clear answers to the above questions but I am desperately searching for answers, as I believe my daughter deserves to know the answers someday.

What I am in search of is: Why has the Lucknow court not provided any legitimate reasons backed by evidences for its judgment? How can a court announce an important judgment based on mythological believes and not on facts and evidences? When was the court pleaded to divide the land or decide about the birth place? I don’t know much about Law but I definitely know that the courts need evidences to decide a plea.

This re-conciliatory/political judgment is like endorsing the act of demolition and succumbing to fear of the violent reactions from either party if denied with the disputed land. If the madam justice was blind then how did she anticipate the repercussions of the judgment? Another disturbing signal is coming from those who are endorsing the judgment for sake of peace. But knowingly or unknowingly they are shifting the Rights of 90s to the Center in 2010. This movement of reference point is alarming, as it might take India towards the deeper rifts.

I am forced to think why there is no judgment on the Babri demolition but judgment on Babri land dispute, no judgment on Mumbai riots but on the Mumbai blast, no action on the Sri Krishna and Liberhan Commission reports, the list of denied justices is getting longer every day. This forces me to think that when ever it is the time to give justice to Muslims it is delayed or reversed. I don’t know if it is meager coincidence or deliberate attempt.

I am still clinging to my faith in the judicial system and I am hoping that the Apex court will not deny us that which is our right. The only thing that we would be interested in is that the court upholds the rule of Law, i.e. if it decides on the basis of facts and evidence or hysteria and myth. And in doing so if they decide against the Muslims I will definitely welcome the judgment.

I don’t want my daughter to hear about her first birthday with her mother’s prospective. But I want her to believe what her father and her ancestors have believed since 1947 that India is governed by LAW.

(The writer is Environment Consultant in UAE, can be contacted at yasirbintaiyab@yahoo.co.in)

[Photo by dawnexhibitions.com]

First The Mosque Disappears, Then The Law

By Shafeeq Rehman Mahajir,

In the Ayodhya matter, has the judgement of the Allahabad High Court unwittingly taken the law to the ideological right, and conferred legitimacy on questionable doctrine of majoritarian supremacy, while at the same time succeeding, I cannot say inadvertently or otherwise, in concealing it ? Are the judges of today capable of being seen as magicians creating illusions that make settled principles of jurisprudence magically disappear ? The verdict has the distinction of leaving us wondering if we are watching an illusion, in effect, though obviously such a situation would never have been ever intended by any Court, to distract the citizens from seeing the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Why is it said that justice must not only be done but it must be seen to be done ? That is because the message matters as much as the outcome. In the Ayodhya matter, the judgement of the Allahabad High Court has with consummate skill allowed certain established principles of civil law to go for a toss, caused the law to morph before the very eyes of a stunned section of the country’s population, even as the right itself was delirious at what it could hardly believe was happening.

Magicians have certain stock tricks and are adept at creating illusions so that audiences reach the conclusions magicians want. The judgement by picking stands and claims so devoid of any verifiable content and so completely divorced from the normal realm of evidence, proof, documentation, verification, legal sustainability, precedent, etc., and alleged facts so impossible to prove, walked such a perilous path that it appeared to it perfectly logical to resort to reliance on blind faith… and in doing so it created so compelling an illusion that it successfully blinded itself to not only binding precedent but also threw overboard all canons of judicial propriety in decision making, to such an extent that from that warped viewpoint, only one outcome seemed possible. Then it seems to have used the reasonable-seeming outcome to reverse engineer “reasons” to “decide” the matter in the way it did and the result was to inadvertently push the law in the right direction.

Just about all that most Indians will be interested in, in the matter of the Babri Masjid – Ram Janam Bhoomi case, is who won or lost — the outcomes of the cases. The court perhaps omitted to keep in mind one other crucial factor : any judgement as a tool of legal thought-shift is powerful because ratio decidendi of judgements forms the legal maze in which the citizens must in future navigate for securing their rights. So, while most public discourse is confined to simplistic issues of who won and who lost, the courts in fact write legal manuals to govern the future of a billion people, impacting (now in unsettling ways at that) what the legal fraternity smugly believed were settled jurisprudential principles of limitation, res judicata, dispossession of persons in settled possession being by only another provided that another could prove better title, lis pendens (no party can transact to affect any other party during the course of litigation), evidence, probative value and more.

Given there was a mosque there for four centuries and a half, given the rules of evidence, given the doctrine of lis pendens, given the problem of limitation, given the problem of a video record of demolition of the mosque by illegal means, the judges came up with a brilliant solution : ignore the demolition of 1992 altogether and focus on the alleged demolition of centuries in the past… So what if there is no proof of that alleged demolition ? So what if there is no proof of who executed that alleged demolition ? So what if there is no proof, if even there is actual controversy, about a specific place being a birthplace as claimed ? So what if there is no proof of that alleged structure allegedly demolished being a temple ? Shift focus from 1992, of which time and act of demolition there is available evidence, to another century, another set of allegations (as against proved fact) of which there cannot be any proof… and fall back on the legally dubious and logically questionably theory that because it is the faith of millions it must be accepted. Behold, the magical result is there ! What cannot be, suddenly is ! What is, suddenly disappears… and there is “justice for all” !!

Arre bhai, koi aur kyaa karey ? What’s a judgement by a set of conservative justices to do, faced with a nation on the boil, an issue that is insurmountable, a 1994 Supreme Court refusal to answer a reference but to rush in where a Higher Court declined to tread ? Unaware perhaps that by their judgement they erode the Law, all the while the set of conservative justices assiduously wrote volumes in the convenient belief that the integrity of the very nation itself was otherwise in jeopardy. But to enable the set of conservative justices to do their amazing work without itself getting caught in the nets of precedent, law and logic, the judgement has been brilliant at choosing to present resounding in its content only those claims in which what the alleged invaders did centuries ago was not just clear, but clear enough to adequately to sustain a legal argument on, whereas what was seen in 1992 was… wait, how could the judgement wish that away ? Simple – it did not ! It caused learned judges to simply ignore the demolition of 1992 !!

What the judgement achieved is so fantastic, you would be amazed beyond your imagination ! While the nation is watching, the Constitutional mandate of upholding the law is sidestepped skilfully, the principle that a change in situation during litigation cannot inure to the advantage of any party is quietly buried, four centuries and a half of history is disbelieved, mythology is elevated to the status of fact, the rules of evidence are scuttled, the doctrine of lis pendens disappears, the problem of limitation is overcome, the video record of demolition of the mosque by illegal means evaporates, so the learned judges can then turn their attention to the task they set themselves – preserving the national peace while the judgement continued at its task of destroying the rule of law.

Obviously the learned judges had no faith in the capacity of the executive to ensure peace, prevent outbreak of violence… After all, they did have as a stark reminder a precedent : the precedent of a State Government holding out to the highest Court in the country the guarantees and assurances of the protection of the mosque, and the grand spectacle of that edifice come crumbling down… So how could any Court now rely on the executive ? They had to ensure peace themselves ! So what if that is not the mandate of a Court ?

Did you think the reference to “the grand spectacle of that edifice come crumbling down” was a reference to the mosque that was demolished ? No, since the judgement chose not to refer to it I will not either – my reference is instead to the edifice of Rule of Law. What was reflected in that act of demolition of the mosque was aggravated first by the very majesty of law being trampled upon by a State that breached undertakings given to a Court, aggravated further by a Court that did not react. When mob violence takes over, reason, logic and law take a back seat, and edifices do come crashing down. That is in essence the way the mob works. Which is why decisions in disputes are not left to mobs to take, for fear that those decisions taken by mobs would not correctly be reflective of what the law prescribes, what the decisions of past stalwarts of legal and constitutional thought have held, and what would uphold the highest traditions that once prevailed in the land. Decisions in disputes are therefore left to Courts of Law.

Courts of Law to operate on the basis of Law. If however, judgements of a Court of Law were to proceed to do to the edifice of the majesty of law and to Rule of Law exactly what a mob did to the edifice of the mosque, would what happened to the mosque not also happen to the structure of the Law as we know it ?

So who thinks it is the Sunni Muslim Wakf Board that is affected by the judgement, or the Amrohi Akhara, or the Ram Lalla idol ? The persons affected one way or the other by the demolition of the mosque may be those, but the persons affected by the demolition of Rule of Law at the hands of the judgement are the likes of you and I, make no mistake of that !

If a right is claimed and denied, the law step to correct any imbalances. Sorry, let me correct myself, the Law would have stepped in to correct imbalances. Now, with a verdict of three learned judges vapourising so many legal principles at one stroke, what will now step in will be not Law as we knew it, with inconvenient doctrines and principles and requirements of evidence and proof and so on and so forth disrupting national harmony, but Law as we now are told it shall henceforth be : the belief of millions shall be the effective substitute for the law. With that substitute there is miraculously achieved, before your very eyes, a magical transformation, a legal-morphing causing the law of the land to disappear and stand substituted with the belief of a majority of the people living in the country.

Three litigants got three months’ more time to settle, or else. The country got for free the magic of the disappearing legal rules ! Ab Supreme Court jaaiye, das saal wahaan latgegaa maamlaa… by which time the magical result of today would have been operational for a decade ! And who ever saw anything once granted in our country being taken back again ?

The conservative judgement couldn’t simply overrule the problematic legal issue of an inconvenient set of “precedents” staring at the judges : faced with the national uproar both ways, for and against the verdict, no one notices the silent but crucial collapse, at the hands of the judgement, of settled legal principles. Court decisions based on highly fragile, judicially unknown and logically unacceptable lines of reasoning will unfortunately invariably impact all who live in a land with “millions” subscribing to certain beliefs. If the faith of those millions is to be the determinant of what is proper and what is not, then things like law, precedent, judicial decision making, rule of law, etc., pale into insignificance and stand substituted by an uncertain, absolute, unverifiable, impossible-to-prove something else – the will of the majority. That spells the end of the India that Babasaheb Ambedkar, Bhagat Singh, Mahatma Gandhi, Moulana Azad, Swami Vivekanand, and others of that calibre thought would come into being. We are now looking at a dubious legal construct based on a thought-shift from the secular to the fascist, from the multicultural to a monochromic, from the inclusive and pluralistic to the exclusionist. What we leave for our children is up to us but one factor is not a variable : if we are not to allow a malevolent drift, we need to act before it is too late.

Ayodhya Judgment: Triumph Of Faith or Constitutional Legality?

The much awaited judgment of Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court in the title suit filed by Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and others was at last delivered and has been welcomed by some and criticized by others, mainly by litigant parties. Those who want to see the controversy end for once and all are arguing that the judgment will help bring about resolution of the dispute as all three parties (Ram Lalla Idol has been treated by the judgment as a legal entity). Now Hindus can build a temple and Muslims a mosque, if they so desire and India can move on.

After all the controversy has to end somewhere and India should move on. Had the judgment achieved that it would have had some merit. But both the litigants are far from satisfied and want to challenge it in the Supreme Court. The judgment has utterly failed to bring about any reconciliation. And apart from this the judgment has set a dangerous precedent.

While peace and reconciliation is very important if it is achieved at the cost of Constitutional democracy and rule of law, it can do more harm than achieve such objective, if it succeeds. The judgment is based on faith, not on law. The two judges, without any historical proof and law of the land straightway invoked faith of Hindus that Ram was born at that place and that a 12th century temple existed there (while admitting that they do not know anything about history and archaeology) and given land to Ram Lalla on one hand, and Nirmohi Akhara on the other and as if as a concession to Sunni Muslim Wakf Board also.

Many legal experts, therefore, apart from the litigants, have strongly criticized the judgment and feel now only the Supreme Court may examine the whole dispute strictly from legal and constitutional viewpoint and deliver the final judgment though it may take along time. Justice Khan, the third judge, though feels there is no proof of any temple being there yet felt that in the interest of peace and reconciliation the land may be divided among three litigants.

Thus all three judges have invoked values of peace and reconciliation rather than constitutional values of democratic India. Law is and must be indifferent to the faith of litigants and even of judges and the judgment, in a democratic country like India which has maintained its independence of judiciary and constitutional values for last sixty years, must be based only on law without any compromise.

It is for the first time that High Court Judges have invoked faith disregarding historical facts and legal values and such invocation of faith can prove injurious to rule of law. It is not Court’s concern whether reconciliation takes place or not, it has to function strictly accordingly to law. It is different thing if it appeals to the litigants to find solution through negotiations rather than waste their time and resources in fighting in the court and it is for litigants to decide whether to accept the court’s appeal or not. If they do not the judges have to consider law as supreme and deliver their judgment.

Those who are celebrating the judgment today as victory of peace and an end to a long standing dispute, are either unaware of long term consequences of such a judgment or do not care for our constitutional democracy. Whatever their reason for celebration, either way it is setting dangerous trend in court of law. Tomorrow other judges motivated by their faith may use this judgment as a precedent and deliver other judgments invoking faith. One judgment often becomes precedent for subsequent judgments.

Thus, stretching the augment one can say as in a democracy after all numbers count and so faith of majority community will play greater role than faith of minority community and court of law will thus become majoritarian in their attitude and all the legal values and protection of minorities and their faith in the constitution may be ultimately subverted. This judgment must be seen in this light if we care for majesty of law and our Constitution.

While faith is very important for individuals and communities constitution is of seminal importance for the country and the nation. India is a country of great diversity and multiple faiths and Constitution guarantees freedom of faith and conscience for all, law is as important for the nation as faith to a community. And the Allahabad High court judgment must be seen in this perspective.

Even Hinduism is not a homogenous religion. Today among Hindus are counted, among others, Dravidians of South also. But Dravidian traditions are far different from Aryan traditions. If one goes by Karunanidhis statement he has complained of Aryan deities being imposed on Dravidian ones. Thus even invoking faith of Hindus in the Allahabad High Court judgment is problematic. Apart from secular Hindus having faith in constitutional values, other Hindus having different culture and linguistic roots also may not subscribe to same faith. Also such tendency of invoking faith may generate pressure on minorities in general, and certain religious minorities in particular, to give in to majoritarian values.

However, having said all this it does not mean that such disputes should not be solved through dialogue, negotiations and mutual agreements. No one will be more happy than myself if the Ayodhya dispute is resolved through dialogue and in the spirit of give and take. It is indeed a great initiative on the part of Shri Hashim Ansari, one of the main litigants who has been fighting this case since early sixties to meet Hanumangarih temple’s main Pujari Shri Gyan Das after the judgment to intervene with Nirmohi Akhara and put and end to the whole controversy through negotiation.

India is a great democratic country and such disputes about the past either must not be invoked at all, as future is much more important than the past, or having invoked must resolve it through mutual understanding so that both the sides should not feel a looser. It is very dangerous that politicians should raise questions of history and use it for their political objectives. The BJP has done precisely that.

It is also regrettable that those who committed crime of demolishing the mosque which was both unlawful, unconstitutional and undemocratic and also against tenets of Hindu faith and yet they are celebrating victory of faith over law. This is even more dangerous. The culprits of demolition have not been yet punished which is another violation of Indian Constitution. Least one can expect is to punish whoever the guilty is or are.

Here in such cases civil society must play vibrant role; our intellectuals, historians, religious leaders litterateurs, peace activists and all those who stand for democratic and constitutional values must come forward and put pressure on both sides to carry on meaningful dialogue to find solution outside four walls of legal chambers to resolve this controversy.

Earlier also Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham had taken initiative along with Muslim personal Law Board in early 2000 to resolve the controversy but VHP and others gheraoed him and stopped him from doing so. This time Shankaracharya of Jyotish Peeth and Dwarka Peeth Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati has once again indicated his intention to do so and this should be heartily welcome and members of Muslim Personal Law Board should join hands with him.

It is also heartening and we must duly praise the efforts of people of India to reject street violence decisively and stand for peace. Our common people have truly stood by peace and very firmly. They have displayed much more wisdom than our politicians whose lust for power never ends.

Along with this we should also recognize the fact that Muslims of India have shown great initiative for peace and practically every Imam in every mosque appealed for peace consequently for two Fridays preceding the judgment, told Muslims to accept the judgment whatever it is in favour or against. Contrast this with mid eighties and end of eighties when Muslims were greatly agitated for Babri Mosque.

Our democracy has indeed made them realize that it is in democracy and secular values lie their future and they must assert themselves for peace and prosperity of people of India together. Confrontation will bring only violence and destruction. All Hindus and Muslims and others have shown great solidarity this time to maintain peace marginalizing even extremists who used to issue statements in very shill tone. They are issuing statements in much more muted tones. It is people of India who have made them behave. I, therefore feel civil society must assert itself and give direction to our political leaders how to behave.

If such initiative could be taken before the highest court’s doors are knocked it will be much better. Only peace is our future and it civil society alone which can ensure this in a democracy.

Ayodhya Dispute: Let’s Change The Equation

The thinking is near unanimous among Muslims; Babri Masjid verdict should be appealed in the Supreme Court. Indeed, the case should go to India’s highest judiciary body and all arguments should be made and heard because Allahabad High Court’s faith-based ruling has implications for not only Muslims but India as a whole. For this and some other reasons, the pleading group in the Supreme Court doesn’t need to be a Muslim group at all. In fact, by not being a party to this case, Muslims set to gain more.

From the night of December 1949, when idols were first placed in the mosque in an act of vandalism to the day of December 1992, when the Babri Masjid was demolished and even after that Muslims of India have always been on the side of law. Imam of Babri Masjid, when he was informed of the placement of idols, did not take the law in his hand rather he went to the local police. Since then, Muslims have pleaded their case patiently in the court of law and hoped for the best. It was their firm belief in Indian Constitution and judiciary that had them waiting for the justice for 60 years.

Indian Muslims have little confidence in police, administration, media or people claiming to be their leaders but their full trust in judiciary, even with its slow movement, was what kept them going. Be it the case of communal riots, fake encounters, or arrests of youths on terror charges- Muslims always cooperated with inquiry commissions and Indian courts. Many youths who were falsely accused of terrorism were later released and these small victories meant that Muslims’ faith in the higher power of judiciary was not unfounded.

They knew that Indian system is corrupt and at best indifferent to them or at worst works actively against them, but not Indian justice system which rules according to the Constitution and decides based on the evidence placed before them. But this latest ruling on Babri Masjid title suit which was based on faith rather than evidence shakes the Muslim trust on judiciary. If they don’t have faith in judiciary where else can they go for justice and enforcement of their rights which are trampled upon by the system?

Planning to go to the Supreme Court is the only option that Muslim leaders can give to their community at this time. But what if the Supreme Court also gives its ruling based on faith rather than evidence? Will it not completely stop Muslims from having any faith in any Indian system? What will be the implications of such a loss to the community and its future in India? What are the options will Muslims have, at that point, for justice?

To be realistic is to realize that it is near impossible to take control of the land where Babri Masjid stood for four hundred years. Promise of rebuilding Babri Masjid by the then Prime Minister is also not going to be fulfilled. Whether Lord Ram was born at that exact spot is disputed by Hindus themselves but the movement against Babri Masjid had millions of Hindus believe that to be Ram Janmsthan. In this situation, it is impossible to build a masjid in that place. Even if Muslims win the case, sooner or later they have quit their claim on the land in the interest of peace and harmony.

Given that the Babri Masjid case sets a bad precedent and it has implications beyond this or some other masjid, and also that a loss in the Supreme Court can make Muslims more alienated and marginalized in India, the best option is to have the case in the Supreme Court be petitioned by a non-Muslim group or people not representing Muslims. Muslims do not need to be party to this case to get justice. Babri Masjid had become a symbol of Indian secularism and rule of law, which means any Indian can be party to this case.

Doing this also pull the rug from under the feet of the Sangh Parivar. Their standing in this issue and using this issue to spread hate is only when they use the language of Hindu vs. Muslims, Babar vs. Ram. As soon as the equation changes and Muslims are not the ones opposing the temple, Parvar’s position will be weakened.

When the case becomes a fight between Hindus and fanatic Hindus then the potential fallout from losing the case will be minimal to Muslim psyche and if justice is served then they set to gain two-fold- first, Sangh Parivar will not be the sole authority speaking on behalf of Hindus and secondly Muslims will benefit from the judgment even though they were not a party to it.

Babri Mosque Dispute: Muslims’ Options

By Kaleem Kawaja,

The flaws in the UP High Court judgement on the title to the Babri mosque land are so basic and so numerous and have been so succinctly pointed out by a lot of people, about half of them Hindus, that there is no need to discuss them any further. The anguish and lament that is pouring out of the Muslim minds is a natural occurrence. It is because we think of ourselves as such integral parts of India that we expect justice every step of the way. However it is time for the Muslim community to pay serious attention to their real options in today’s India vis-a-vis the High Court judgement (where one judge in the panel was a Muslim), and the future of their community.

This High Court judgement took away many options that the Muslim community had to come to a negotiated settlement and earn some goodwill from the Hindus of India by giving up something that was their. However there is still time left and a few options left for the community where it can make the Hindus acknowledge gratitude to the Muslims for resolving a major national and Hindu-Muslim problem that has severly damaged the Indian nation. And then be able to re-build the Muslim community in the nation’s mainstream and make progress with needed cooperation from secular Hindus. Muslims also need to stop VHP, BJP etal from converting more secular Hindus to their side, something that they were successful in doing with their Ram Janambhoomi campaign.

Yes, Muslims have every right to appeal to the supreme court and point out the flaws in the High Court judgement. But we should be realistic about what the supreme court may say. The govt will again play the same game and put 1 Muslim judge in the supreme court bench to demonstrate its even handedness. If we think that the Supreme Court will reverse the High Court judgement and award the entire site to Muslims, we are living in fools’ paradise. Are supreme court judges angels? Are they not the same judges who populate the High Court? Are not the same compulsions at work in the supreme court as they are in the High Courts? Will it really be possible for the Hindu supreme court judges and the lone Muslim judge to negate the High court conclusion and say that Hindus have no claim to that site? Think about it.

The most generous result that we can expect from the supreme cort appeal, which will again create much tension between Muslims and Hindus, with Muslims bearing the brunt, may be that the supreme court may give one-half of the site to Muslims and the other half to Hindus. We should understand that no power on earth, let alone supreme court can make Hindus vacate the part of land where the makeshift Rama twmple exists now. We should also understand that any supreme court proceeding will give yet another opportunity to VHP, BJP, Advani, Modi etal to whip up poison in the Hindu mind against the Muslims. Another cycle of hatred, violence and retribution against innocent Muslims may result and its negative effect last for decades .

It is also likely that supreme court may refuse to hear the Muslims’ appeal on some technoical legal ground. Regardless, after the supreme court review that may take another 3 or 4 years it may be established beyond the shadow of any doubt that VHP/BJP were always right and not only Muslims were wrog, the secular Hindus were also wrong. VHP, BJP will be able to say with full confidence that Muslims always exaggerate the resolution of national problems with a Muslim bias and without being even handed. Ofcourse at that time Muslims will have absolutely no options or ability to make suggestions in this matter. Also it will embolden VHP, BJP and extremist Hindus to say with certanity that Muslims and secular Hindus are wrong on the other 2,000 mosques also. And they will intensify their campaign to take over those mosques. It will give much fodder to BJP to surge as the lead political party in India.

However at this time while Muslims still have some options, if they express their revulsion at the flawed High Court judgement, but say that in the interest of the welfare of the Indian nation and their own community, they want to close the chapter on this very damaging national dispute and not pursue it any further, it will leave a very positive and very lasting impression on millions of Hindus who populate India. As to their share of the land, they can simply give it away to the Hindus, or decline to take possession. That may make a lot of Hindus who think negatively about Muslims, to rethink and at least become neutral on Muslims. This is just as it happened among many Hindus after the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat.

Unfortunately many Muslims who speak on this issue have hardly any communication with Hindus as their lives have always revolved in Muslim circles only. Instead of looking at today’s real India they think of an idealistic divine India where every Hindus should be a Gandhi. Look at the long history of India where a minority of upper caste Hindus have dominated over an overwhelming majority of low caste Hindus for many milleniums, despite countless Hindu saints, reformers and do-gooders.

Today it behoves Indian Muslims to think of their future with cool heads, evaluate their real options, not their idealistic dreams, and advise their leadership to take the right step forward that can bring the community out of the doghouse and into the mainstream and pinnacle of the nation.

The writer is a community activist in Washington DC.

Lessons from the Babri Masjid saga and the road ahead

By Ayub Khan,

The ruling of Allahabad High Court on the title ownership of the land were Babri Masjid was located has left the Indian Muslim community dazed and confused. A number of voices from within and outside the community have been advancing the merits of a variety of options that the community can choose from. These range from surrendering all claims in the name of creating goodwill to the stance that not even an inch of the site could be conceded. As these competing options battle it out it may be a good idea to probe if any lessons and generalizations can be gleaned from this entire saga. A few are offered below.

Leadership Deficit

There appears to be general consensus within the Indian Muslim community, from the Irani hotels of Hyderabad to the comfortable drawing rooms of Noida, that there is no such thing as a national level Muslim leadership in the country. This much was accepted by Syed Shahabuddin of All India Majlis-e-Mushawarat who recently said in an interview: ‘There is no such thing as a Muslim leadership.’ The problem has become acute in the light of the court decision as the masses now realise that they are now ‘leaderless.’

Those who lay claims to leadership are often personalities with local influence, intellectuals with no mass based support, and religious scholars who represent certain sects and ideologies. In addition, there are pseudo-leaders who have neither the influence among the masses nor the intellectual acumen but have the right connections in the political parties.

None among the above claimant groups can be called a true leader of the community whose support cuts across sectarian, ideological, and political fault lines. As a group these elites have collectively failed the community.

The solution to this problem is complex. But for starters the national organizations can begin by revamping their respective structures. The first thing should be to weed out the dalals from national organizations like the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. A number of wheelers and dealers have made their way into the organization whose sole aim is personal advancement on the backs of the community. They have been using their membership of the board for personal benefit like getting appointed to lucrative government commissions, getting murder charges cleared, etc. The sooner they are shown the door the better.

Secondly, these organizations should reflect the true demographic diversity of the community. Inclusion of youth and women is vital if these organizations are to successfully face future challenges. Candidates from these groups have to be cultivated from the bottom up by providing leadership and personality development coaching.

Politicization of purely religious issues can be fatal

It has become glaringly evident now that the Muslim leadership fell into the trap set up by the Hindutva forces by unwittingly, and probably unconsciously, helping them in politicising this issue. The Hindutva forces initiated the politicisation of the Babri Masjid dispute in order to gain electoral benefits. They might have been hampered in their attempts if the emerging leadership hadn’t succumbed to their machinations. But unfortunately they did. They also stand guilty of combining the Shah Bano controversy with the Mandir-Masjid dispute.

Prof. Tahir Mahmood, in his memoirs, writes that he warned a veteran Muslim leader against doing so but he was rebuked. He writes, “In my opinion the Babri mosque dispute was indeed a local issue which Muslim religious leaders later turned into a national—and Hindu politicians misusing Hinduism into an international issue.”

Such wise counsel went unheeded and the community now has to bear the consequences.

Abandonment of rights will embolden the fascists

There are well meaning individuals who have called on the Muslims to give up their claims and pave the way for the construction of grand temple. This course of action is tantamount to communal suicide as this will further embolden the fascists in the country who now think that they are being rewarded for their heinous actions.
In any case giving up the rights will not solve the issue. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has demanded that the now that the court had delivered its ruling the Muslims should give up Kashi and Mathura.

While asking Muslims to give up their claims none of these worthies whether it be Acharya Giriraj Kishore and Ashok Singhal or the sophisticated Arun Jaitley or Ravishankar Prasad are willing to offer anything in return.

The best thing under these circumstances for the Muslim community will be to proceed with this case to the Supreme Court and accept the final verdict. Let there be no mass mobilization on the issue any more.

Create Awareness

Throughout the Babri Masjid saga the Muslim intelligentsia, scholars, and leaders did not adopt a pro-active approach in creating awareness about Muslim history. They remained content with the research provided by scholars of repute like Romila Thapar, etc.

In direct contrast, the pro-temple movement utilized a large number of scholars to churn out tomes of their biased and grossly unscientific versions of history to support their claims. They carried this propaganda in the academia as well as in the public. Resultantly, we now have a situation where a significant number of people believe that Muslims were destroyers of temples and persecutors of Hindus.

This propaganda succeeded in creating the impression that this conflict is essentially about latent Hindu grievances which have been nurtured for centuries. In contrast, Muslims have nothing to complaint about. This half-truth and grossly inaccurate version of history neglects the fact that the Muslims have equally suffered in India since time immemorial. There is documentary evidence to show that hundreds of mosques were destroyed by Hindu rulers, Sikh soldiers, Parsis, and foreign colonists. Hundreds more have been destroyed, desecrated, or occupied since 1947.

Everyone associates Mahmood, Babur, and Aurangzeb with temple destruction. But no one seems to know that the Portuguese General Afonso De Albuquerque had destroyed scores of mosques in 1507. No one remembers that soldiers of the Kakatiya Dynasty indulged in destroying and desecrating mosques despite being in alliance with the Adil Shahis. No one remembers that in the thirteenth century the Parsis in the Cambay had instigated the Hindus to demolish the minaret of a mosque and burn it to ground. No one remembers that Sikh soldiers had occupied the Jame Masjid in the aftermath of 1857 and converted it into horse stables. Such examples abound but Muslims took no serious interest in uncovering and publicising these instances.

Doing so would have taken the winds out of the sails of the Hindutva movement’s attempts to stoke fires based on artificially constructed historical memories.

It is about time that Indian Muslims do their home work and correct the half-truth versions of history.

Ayodhya Verdict: A Lesson For The Coming Generation

By Soroor Ahmed,

Though the September 30 Allahabad High Court verdict is too legal to be analysed in simple terms its one important fall-out is that it provided an opportunity to make the young generation aware of what actually happened in the tumultuous 5-6 years of the Ram Janambhoomi movement.

Even in this age of information explosion a large number of Hindu and Muslim youths under the age of 20 were, till a month back, totally unaware of what actually happened on, before and after December 6, 1992 — the day the structure was brought down by a mob of thousands led by BJP leaders Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati. That was not enough. The rampaging mob then went on killing and maiming Muslims and destroying their property. At places innocent passengers were thrown from the running trains or killed on roads while on way to home.

L.K. Advani ON the Somnath-Ayodhya rath yatra of 1991 [Photo: The Hindu]

The court judgement of September 30 does not in any way exonerate the killing of thousands of innocent men, women and children on the run-up to the movement to demolish the structure. Even several Hindus were killed in police firing when earlier attempt was made on Babri Masjid during the chief ministership of Mulayam Singh Yadav.

What happened from Bhagalpur in October 1989 to Surat in December 1992 (where Muslim women were stripped naked and paraded during the riots) to Mumbai in December1992-January 1993 was virtually blacked out by a large section of the media in the later years. The Lucknow Special Court ruling prompted the media to recall some of those facts before the people.

Till a few weeks back the upcoming generation was aware of what happened on March 12, 1993 in Mumbai, where serial blasts killed around 250 innocent people. But they were hardly aware of what actually happened in months and years preceding that incident. Now they have become aware of both the heinous crimes against humanity––not just one.

The verdict, in no way, justified the demolition when the case relating to it was sub-judice and when one of the party was ready to accept the court judgement from the very beginning.

Though Muslims were mostly the victims of the prolong movement, the tragedy is that the older generation of the community failed to pass on to the Gneration-Next what actually transpired, who conspired, who whipped up mass hysteria and provocked the general people and who played the heroic role in safeguarding the secular character of the country.

Uma Bharti in jubilant mood after the demolition of Babri Masjid on 6th December 1992 [Photo: OutlookIndia]

For example, even the harshest critic among Muslims of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Yadav are now forced to recall their contributions to the cause of secularism when they were the chief ministers of the respective states. They were the two men who, then stood the test of the time. And that too when most of the so-called secular elements in the Congress were hand-in-glove with the communalists. The Left too did not play much important role in resisting the movement as one expected them to do. This in spite of the fact that the local MP of Faizabad between November 1989 and May-June 1991 was Mitrasen Yadav of the Communist Party of India. Ayodhya falls under Faizabad parliamentary constituency. It was in 1991 election that Vinay Katiyar of the Bajrang Dal won on the BJP ticket. Mitrasen later joined the Samajwadi Party.

The only exception among the Left is the CPI ML (Liberation), whose cadres came out strongly in their fight against the saffron brigade in a few places in North India.

As the verdict provided an opportunity to debate and discuss in media the whole chain of events it also gave an idea to the coming generation about the gravity of the situation. The fear, panic and uncertainity which gripped the country in the last few days before the September 30 judgement reminded the older generation of those heydays of the movement when the whole country was brought to a standstill. Parents, especially Muslims, were not sending their sons and daughters to schools and colleges, people would avoid journey and remain confined to home after sunset in many parts of the country.

Journey of terror: death and destruction following Advani’s rath yatra in 1990. [The Hindu]

We are now in the position to look at the history from hindsight and can react more maturely. It is good that even the Sangh Parivar leaders, from the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to Lal Krishna Advani and Narendra Modi, are trying to say that it is not the issue of defeat and victory. But the next generation has now become aware as to how these people celebrated on the streets of Ayodhya and many parts of the country the demolition of Babri Masjid. Media have now highlighted the photos which show Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharati and others hugging each other as the 464 years old structure was being brought down. The slogan Ek Dhako Aur Do (Give one more shove) to pull down the mosque is now known to the new generation.

Had the parties been more sensible and mature the solution could have been reached without shedding blood. The whole movement certainly polarized the country no end and gave birth to hotheads among the Muslims too. More than the verdict, the unwinding of the whole chain of events––obviously the by-product of the judgement––may go a long way to change the thinking of both the communities.

Unlike till early 1990s the passion has subsided and people have become more rational. Time has proved a great healer. Even the Sangh Parivar knows that they cannot whip up the same fervour and sentiment on the same issue once again in less than two decades. This is a lesson for the future generation.

Advocacy For A Neutral Verdict – Not In Favor Of Mandir or Masjid

By Zohra Javed,

The two most talked-about things these days are Commonwealth Games and Ramjanmabhoomi issue, which is also called Babri Masjid dispute. CWG is perhaps taking the top TRPs if one is to talk in the television network parlance. Kalmadi is the main villain. He is being profusely abused and disgraced by all and sundry for what he has done. And I agree that the people are absolutely right in hating Kalmadi. I am no different in my views on him.

But as for the Ayodhya issue, the perpetrators of the crime of first destroying a heritage structure (which was our national wealth) and then being responsible for so many riots, loss of property and life, are all people of high repute, enjoying the privileges of the highest offices in the country.

We all unite in demonstrating an impeccable proof of our patriotism when the target is safe (and soft) as everyone knows there is not going to be any controversial fallout of condemning Kalmadi. But we develop cold feet and take refuge in religious values when the actual murderers and the real traitors are to be brought to book. Most of us are relieved to see serious filth (of injustice and corruption) being broomed under the carpet and blaming some weak link for it when it becomes huge and comes back disturbing us with its incessant and unbearable stink.

Of course the mismanagement of Commonwealth Games and the shameless corruption involved therein is unforgivable. But is Kalmadi alone to be blamed? Is he the only one who has swallowed immeasurable public funds?

And while we answer these and such other many more questions related to our national pride, it will be worthwhile to do an honest introspection of the other problem which is more long-standing and has done much more incalculable damage. Also it is still a dormant volcano that can erupt any time.

The High Court verdict on this dispute which was to come on 24th of this month and is now expected possibly later in the month is certainly not going to solve the issue. For the simple reason that one of the parties in the dispute is not ready to obey the court order if it goes against them, and secondly the other party has another higher court, the Supreme Court of the country to look up to if the verdict goes against them. So either way the dispute continues.

Not to mention that no action has been taken against anyone of those terror-mongers who openly say they will not obey the law of the land. They have shown a complete disregard for the Constitution of the country, but the law does not punish them.

Partition of India was also resorted to saying it was a solution to the Hindu-Muslim problem simmering at the time of our Independence struggle. What has it solved is for all to see. And as for the Ayodhya issue (I will repeat myself here that) the only real solution is that the court must surprise the nation with a neutral judgement, if the parties to the dispute are not able to come to an amicable mature solution on their own.

Neither side should be allowed the possession of the site. The ownership should be given to the government of India with specific directions that within a stipulated time frame of say a year or two there would be a structure of public utility, specially benefitting the poor and underprivileged be built there.

I don’t think this will be a difficult job if the court orders thus. Both the warring parties must then be strictly made to give in to this order in the interest of the nation and in keeping with teachings of the faiths or God/Prophet that they so ardently follow.

No religion in its pure and true form has ever endorsed violence and killing. The courts have a duty to not just decide a case this way or that, they have a responsibility to guide the people too, setting examples in justice and ensuring peaceful working of a system.

The Courts must be courageous enough to set exemplary trends in such cases, as this is no ordinary case of a mere title to some property in a remote place. Taking into account the extraordinary nature of this case, our judges can for a change be innovative and intelligent, sending out a message that any religious place over which there comes a debate or conflict would be taken over by the State.

Do we always have to follow a precedent or are we indeed that super-power-in-the-making who can fearlessly set examples for the world to emulate…?

And as for the date of the announcement of court verdict and the beginning of Commonwealth Games being so close on heels, one can hope that the government would not allow any untoward incident as an aftermath of the Ayodhya judgement in view of CWG preparations and Kalmadi having tarnished the Indian Pride enough.

Let Us Live In Honesty And Harmony

By Shobha Shukla,

We Indians have a tendency to delve in the past and then either gloat over it or cry over it. We love to waste time and energy, reminiscing about the yesteryears, with scant thoughts of improving our present and future. We do not let ‘Bygones be Bygones’, but rather cling to them in a sadistic sort of way. It rarely occurs to us to learn lessons from the past mistakes in order to improve upon our present. What’s the point in revelling about India being the land of ‘milk and honey’ in the eras gone by, when the present chaos (compounded by hunger and violence) promises to get worse with every passing day?

It would, perhaps, be more worthwhile to analyze critically and ponder over the mistakes (and not repeat them) which have led to a gradual decline in public/private morality and brought us to abysmal depths of depravity—the ongoing controversies surrounding the (non)preparation of Commonwealth Games, and the Ayodhya tangle being just two of the myriad examples of our moral turpitude.

The sheer gravity of the ongoing Babri Masjid-Ramjanmbhoomi seems to be defying all solutions. As I write this piece, rumours are rife in the city of Lucknow, and elsewhere too, about what may (or may not) happen in the next couple of days. With bated breath, all are waiting for the D Day – the day of judgement (not by God but by the Allahabad High Court). One community is pitched against another; rhetoric is whipping up emotions; and a palpable scare pervades the very air we breathe. A distraught mother of my colleague wants to stockpile groceries lest there be a curfew; parents are wary of sending their wards to schools even at the cost of missing an exam; many shopkeepers feel it is safer to close shop on the day of the verdict; people are trying to refrain from travel and stay within the confines of their home-sweet-home; while others are anxiously waiting and watching, twiddling or biting their thumbs.

And all this frenzy is in the name of Ram/Allah or Khuda/Ishwar.

How does it matter whether the disputed site was the birth place of Lord Ram or housed a mosque?

Probably it was both- in that chronological order. Or, maybe it was not. Even if it were a place of worship of one of the two communities, it needs to be respected by the other. Enough rabble has been roused by Muslims and Hindus, or rather by their political/religious leaders, on this issue. It is time now for the Phoenix to rise from the ashes of what must once have been a prosperous place. Some of our so called leaders have been crying hoarse that they will not tolerate an insult to their God and build a temple/mosque there (irrespective of the court order).

Surely there are better and more constructive ways of showing reverence to our religion. Let us (including our religious leaders) follow the real principles of Lord Ram and/or the true tenets of Prophet Muhammad, rather than squabble over the proprietorship of a piece of land. Let us try to bring back Ram Rajya (a synonym for ideal governance) in our country by becoming morally upright and law abiding citizens who prefer love to hatred. Let us not brush aside our misdemeanours- whether it be passing the buck in the murky dealings of the organizing committee of Commonwealth Games, or in casting aspersions on each other in the Mandir – Masjid (each is a six letter word beginning with an M) fight. It would be in the fitness of things, and for the benefit of all, if we take the responsibility of undoing the harm already perpetrated by us.

As right minded and responsible citizens, let us demand (and work for) the construction of a hospital, at the disputed site in Ajodhya—a hospital which will be free from corrupt practices and provide holistic care to the common patient with love and compassion. I think we can call it the ‘Allaram Hospital’ or the ‘Ramallah Hospital’ or, for that matter, give it any other name. As the Bard said–“What’s in a name”.

This is the only healing touch which will soothe the frayed nerves of the gods and human beings. It is also one of the ways in which we can truly worship our religion—whatsoever it might be.

Let us be truly religious by living honestly and peacefully. (CNS)

The author is the Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS) and also serves as the Director of CNS Gender Initiative and CNS Diabetes Media Initiative (CNS-DMI). She has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP, and teaches Physics at India’s prestigious Loreto Convent. Email: shobha@citizen-news.org, website: www.citizen-news.org